Mikhail Vasilyevich Frunze is a popular Russian Bolshevik and Red General of the Russian Civil War. He is best known for defeating and pushing back Alexander Kolchak in Siberia, although the victory was short-lived.
Early Life and Early Political Activity
Mikhail Frunze was born in Pishpek in Semirechye Oblast, Russian Turkestan. Frunze was born to a Moldovan medical practitioner and his Russian wife. Frunze attended the Saint Petersburg Polytechnical University in 1904. During the split of the Social Democratic Party Labour Party at its Second Congress in 1903, Frunze sided with Vladimir Lenin's Bolsheviks.
During the 1905 Revolution, Frunze led striking Textile workers in Shuya and Ivanovo. Because of this, Frunze was arrested in 1907 and sentenced to Death. This was later reprieved, his sentence being commuted to life at hard labor. After 10 years in Siberian prisons, Frunze escaped to Chita, where he became editor of the Bolshevik weekly newspaper Vostochnoe Obozrenie (Eastern Perspective).
During the February Revolution, Frunze headed the Minsk civilian militia before his election as president of the Byelorussian Soviet. He later went to Moscow and led an armed force of workers to aid in the struggle for control of the city.
Russian Civil War
After the October Revolution in 1917, Frunze became Military Commissar for the Ivanovo-Voznesensk Province in 1918. In March 1919, Frunze was made head of the Southern Army Group of the Eastern Front. Frunze fought fiercely in Siberia against Alexander Kolchak, routing the White Army from Yekaterinburg. Because of this, Leon Trotsky gave Frunze overall command of the Eastern Front. Trotsky halted the White Army advance in Samara, but this caused Frunze to halt his offensive against Kolchak's forces. After Trotsky withdrew to Simbirsk, Frunze withdrew from Yekaterinburg, retreating to Kazan. After the withdrawal from Yekaterinburg, Frunze's time as commander of the Eastern Front mostly amounted to small-scale skirmishes with White and Green forces around Kazan. Vasily Blücher's defeat and surrender at Simbirsk caused Mikhail Diterikhs to begin an offensive to take back Kazan in late 1919. Frunze, knowing that he could not receive reinforcements from the rest of the Red Army, chose to defend the city bitterly to the end.
Diterikhs' forces were too much for Frunze, and Kazan was captured in October of 1919. Frunze and most of the Red defense at Kazan, including Red General Alexander Samoylo, surrendered.
Frunze was held in captivity until the ceasefire on January 22nd, 1920. For punishment, Frunze was exiled to Turkestan, to his home city of Pishpek. For sixteen years, Frunze has been under observation by Russian security forces. Since his exile, Frunze has been working closely with local workers' movements in Turkestan, and has been more receptive of Syndicalism than his other exiled Bolshevik comrades.